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Apology Over Blackface

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Photog, Magazine Differ Over Intent of Darkening Model

Jet Editor Sorry for Facebook Comment on Fantasia

Historian Says Parks Would Have Wanted Tubman Honored

Editorials Back Renewal of Voting Rights Act

CNN Still in Rough Ratings Waters

. . . Martin "Unperturbed" by Uncertainty of CNN Role

Detroit's Fleming Reportedly Suspended for 10 Days

ESPN Leads the Way in Sports Journalism Diversity

VH1 to Follow Reporters on "Urban Entertainment" Beat

Why Are These People in That House?

Short Takes

A darkened white model Ondria Hardin, 16, of  Lumberton, N.C., appeared in the F

Photog, Magazine Differ Over Intent of Darkening Model

The French magazine that published a photo of a darkened 16-year-old white girl under the title "African Queen" apologized Wednesday "to anyone who may have been offended."

But the magazine's management offered a different explanation of what the photo represented than did the photographer, and the controversy again shone a light on the lack of racial progress in the fashion industry.

Anna Klassen wrote Wednesday in the Daily Beast, ". . . Unfortunately, increased racial diversity within the fashion industry is still an issue. According to reports, at New York Fashion Week this season, an astonishing 82 percent of models were white. Of the remaining 18 percent, only 6 percent were black. And while some design houses are trying to remedy this problem — see Miu Miu's spring campaign video that features an entirely black cast — they are few and far between. . . ."

Just a week ago, Margaret Sullivan, public editor at the New York Times, quoting a reader's letter about the Times' redesigned T Magazine, wrote, ". . . There is a complete absence of any people of color in articles or fashion shoots. I assume the ads cannot be controlled, but I saw only one African-American and one Asian-American among the thousands of models in the ads. The T doesn’t look like my neighborhood or America."

Writing about the Numéro photo spread, Julee Wilson explained Wednesday in HuffPost BlackVoices, ". . . Ondria Hardin, a 16-year-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed model is seen with darkened skin, striking a pose for the glossy.

"The Huffington Post reached out to the magazine for comment and received the following statement Wednesday morning via email:

" 'Some people have declared that they have been offended by the publication in Numéro magazine n°141 of March 2013, of an editorial realized by the photographer Sebastian Kim called 'African Queen', featuring the American model Ondria Hardin posing as an 'African queen', her skin painted in black.

" 'The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination. Numéro has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial.

" 'For its part, Numéro Magazine, which has the utmost respect for this photographer's creative work, firmly excludes that the latest may have had, at any moment, the intention to hurt readers' sensitivity, whatever their origin. . . ."

However, Kim denied the model represented a black woman and called the "African Queen" title unfortunate.

"At 11:03am The Huffington Post received the following statement from photographer Sebastian Kim via email," Wilson continued.

" 'I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding around my recent photos for Numero France. It was never my intention (nor Numero's) to portray a black woman in this story. Our idea and concept for this fashion shoot was based on 60's characters of Talitha Getty, Verushka and Marisa Berenson with middle eastern and Moroccan fashion inspiration. We at no point attempted to portray an African women by painting her skin black. We wanted a tanned and golden skin to be showcased as part of the beauty aesthetic of this shoot.

" 'It saddens me that people would interpret this as a mockery of race. I believe that the very unfortunate title 'African Queen' (which I was not aware of prior to publication) did a lot to further people's misconceptions about these images. It was certainly never my intention to mock or offend anyone and I wholeheartedly apologize to anyone who was offended."

Klassen wrote in the Daily Beast, ". . . this isn’t the magazine's first racial offense. In 2010, it used Caucasian model Constance Jablonski to portray an African mother in an editorial spread, complete with Afro and dark face paint, posing with a black baby in a field of wheat.

"Numéro joins the ranks of other magazines that have featured racially insensitive spreads in the past. In 2006, fair-skinned Kate Moss posed for The Independent wearing nothing but black paint covering her face and body. In 2010, Claudia Schiffer posed for Karl Lagerfeld in yellow and blackface, wearing an afro-like wig, sequined top and brown face and body paint. And in 2012, make-up brand Illamasqua featured a model in dark face paint and makeup."

Jet Editor Sorry for Facebook Comment on Fantasia

Jet magazine editor-in-chief Mitzi Miller has apologized for a Facebook comment expressing her exasperation over having to compose a statement defending the magazine's use of a 10-year-old photo of cover subject Fantasia  Barrino, who became famous in 2004 as a winner on television's "American Idol."

I apologize for the lack of sensitivity shown in my FaceBook post. It was a thoughtless comment made during a moment of frustration. It was unprofessional and not representative of the JET mission, which is to uplift. I regret letting my emotions get the best of me. I am truly apologetic," Miller said in a statement, Veronica Wells reported Tuesday for Madame Noire.

As reported in this space on Friday, Miller told her Facebook friends, "The fact that I wasted an hour of my workday writing a press release to address an issue created by a person who cannot even read it is just... #whyiwannaBahousewife."

President Obama spoke at the unveiling of a statue of Rosa Parks in the U.S. Capitol, saying people often live their lives "as if in a fog, accepting injustice, rationalizing inequity, tolerating the intolerable." (Video)

Historian Says Parks Would Have Wanted Tubman Honored

On Wednesday, President Obama spoke at the unveiling of a full-length bronze statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, the first African American woman so honored in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall.

"Mrs. Parks would have been more embarrassed than flattered," historian Douglas Brinkley wrote Wednesday for the Washington Post's theRootDC. "She was an extremely self-deprecating woman. What would have truly perturbed her was that Obama has yet to issue an executive order to create the Harriet Tubman National Monument. The paperwork is ready. It just needs the president's signature.

"Mrs. Parks enjoyed noting that she was born in February 1913 and Tubman died just a month later in March. She felt that the freedom struggle baton had been passed on to her from her all-seasons hero.

"The National Monument deal which Obama should sign — like the one he did in October 2012 for Latino human rights activist Cesar Chavez in Keene, Calif. — would have units in both New York (Auburn) and Maryland (adjacent to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge). All the leading elected politicians in those states — Cuomo, Schumer, Gillibrand, Cardin, Mikulski and O'Malley — are for the federal preservation of the Tubman sites. . . "

Editorials Back Renewal of Voting Rights Act

"A key provision in one of the U.S.'s best known civil rights laws, the Voting Rights Act, received a highly skeptical and sometimes downright hostile response from the conservative justices at the Supreme Court on Wednesday," Josh Gerstein wrote Wednesday for Politico.

But renewing the measure has the support of some of the nation's leading editorial pages.

After Justice Antonin Scalia said during a Supreme Court argument Wednesday, "This is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress," the Washington Post editorialized with this rejoinder:

". . . 'It was clear to 98 senators, including every senator from a covered state, who decided that there was a continuing need for this piece of legislation,' Justice Elena Kagan said, in what might seem a self-evident point.

"But not to Justice Scalia. 'Or decided that perhaps they'd better not vote against, that there's . . . none of their interests in voting against it,' he said. Later he elaborated on why he feels free to dismiss this particular congressional action: 'I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any senator to vote against continuation of this act. . . . They are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act. Even the name of it is wonderful: the Voting Rights Act. Who is going to vote against that in the future?'

"This is a stunning line of argumentation. Congress is empowered to write legislation enforcing the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. But if Justice Scalia doubts the purity of lawmakers' motives, then apparently this power is limited. We wonder how the justice is able to discern what lay within the hearts of these 98 senators. We also wonder how many challenged acts of Congress would survive if the court saw fit to strike down any that were enacted by lawmakers considering, in part, their reelection prospects. . . . "

CNN Still in Rough Ratings Waters

"Looks like wall-to-wall crippled cruise ship coverage wasn't enough to get CNN off rough ratings seas. One full month since Jeff Zucker officially took over the cable news network, CNN saw a 5% dip in total day viewers and a 1% slip in primetime viewership in February as compared to January," Dominic Patten wrote Tuesday for Deadline Hollywood.

Meanwhile, Zucker is expected to host a networking reception in New York March 8 as part of the Region 2 conference of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. "He will be speaking to NAHJ members and guests," NAHJ President Hugo Balta told Journal-isms, in an appearance scheduled before NAHJ and the National Association of Black Journalists complained that Zucker's first hires included no journalists of color.

Zucker met Monday with NABJ leaders. On Tuesday, NABJ President Gregory H. Lee Jr. issued a statement saying NABJ had a standing quarterly meeting with CNN that predates the current leadership team. ". . .This particular meeting was an opportunity for NABJ to speak with Mr. Zucker and to learn more about his vision for the network. We had a productive discussion on how CNN can partner with NABJ to achieve our common objective of promoting a diverse newsroom, in particular within the management ranks, where our industry overall is lacking in diversity . . .," Lee said.

. . . Martin "Unperturbed" by Uncertainty of CNN Role

". . . It has been reported that CNN veteran contributors, Roland Martin and Donna Brazile could be next on [CNN President Jeff] Zucker's chopping block," Tanya Young Williams wrote Wednesday for the HuffingtonPost.

"While on the red carpet at the 44th NAACP Image Awards, Martin spoke candidly about his current role at CNN and his future relationship with the network. Martin appeared unperturbed by the uncertainty of his pending employment with CNN. In fact, he said, 'I'm excited about other opportunities.' Martin, who was scheduled to meet with Zucker in days following the interview, continued, 'It's up to them if they want me to stay around.' "

Roland Martin Martin messaged this statement to Journal-isms on Wednesday:

"I've worked hard to build my company, Nu Vision Media, from one platform to several. We have CNN, TV One, Tom Joyner Morning Show, the websites, books, and speaking. We are working on two new books and looking at other ventures, including documentaries. I'm also looking to expand my portfolio at TV One. I recently appeared on ESPN's First Take, and would love to do more sports stuff. My passions run well beyond politics; anyone who has seen Washington Watch on TV One could see that. I would love to do more sports stuff.

"I don't know what the future holds at CNN. It's not my call. My deal is up April 8 and I'll know by then whether my six-year stay there will come to an end or I will continue to provide the kind of cutting-edge commentary on a variety of issues that has been well-received by many. I can't control when I'm booked and on what shows. I just try to deliver something different and exciting each time I'm on, and do my best to make my work stand out.

"In the past few weeks since all of this speculation began, I have numerous people reach out to me expressing their strong feelings about my work. Many of them are in entertainment, sports, politics, business, and everyday people. Their feedback has been nothing short of amazing, whether it's Sidney Poitier, Hank Aaron, Harry Belafonte, Charles Barkley, Stevie Wonder to the brothers and sisters shouting at me as I walk down the streets of DC, NY, Houston, Detroit and other cities. I appreciate all of the love and support. It's always amazing to me how you can be on for a short period of time but affect people in so many different ways.

"I wake up with the same motto that has always driven me: If you do good, I'll talk about you. If you do bad, I'll talk about you. At the end of the day, I'll talk about you!"

Detroit's Fleming Reportedly Suspended for 10 Days

"Detroit News reporter Leonard Fleming has returned to work after making headlines last month when the ex-wife of state Treasurer Andy Dillon received a personal protection order against him," Bill McGraw wrote Feb. 21 for Deadline Detroit.

". . . A person with knowledge of the matter said Fleming received a 10-day suspension, a warning from management and a new assignment. He had covered city hall for several years.

". . . Fleming has not explained his version of events publicly, but has told people there is another side to the story."

Fleming did not respond to an inquiry from Journal-isms on Wednesday.

ESPN Leads the Way in Sports Journalism Diversity

"The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport has released its 2012 study of minorities and women covering sports at America's news outlets this week, and unfortunately, its findings haven't changed much since it released its first study in 2006," Travis Waldron wrote Tuesday for the Center for American Progress.

". . . The most interesting part of the study, though, is that without the world's largest sports outlet, the numbers would be far worse. ESPN is the target of constant (often deserved) complaints in the world of sports journalism, but when it comes to diversity, the Worldwide Leader is leading the way, as the Institute's president Richard Lapchick wrote at Sports Business Daily:

" 'In the new report card, of the 12 people of color who are sports editors at "Circulation A" media outlets (the largest newspapers and dot-coms, with a circulation of 175,000 or more), four work for ESPN, which employed two of the six African-American sports editors and two of the four Latino sports editors. If ESPN's people of color were removed, the percentage of sports editors in the 'A' organizations who are people of color would drop from 15 percent to 11 percent.

"Of the 11 women who are sports editors at this circulation level, six work for ESPN. If the ESPN sports editors who are women were removed, then the percentage of female sports editors at this level would drop from 14 percent to 8 percent.

"Those numbers translate down the ladder too. . . . "

VH1 to Follow Reporters on "Urban Entertainment" Beat

"The Gossip Game," a new VH1 series premiering April 1 at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time, "draws viewers into the lives of seven media personalities covering the fast-paced, competitive urban entertainment beat in New York City," the network announced Thursday.

"Every day, these ambitious women navigate the ever-shifting landscape of the media industry, where they strive to preserve their place in the 'pecking order' while chasing the latest exclusive scoop. . . . "

Cast members are "Angela Yee, co-host of the top rated 'Breakfast Club' show on Power 105.1; K. Foxx, co-host of 'The Cipha Sounds & Rosenberg Show with K. Foxx' on Hot 97 FM; Kim Osorio, Editor-In-Chief of The Source magazine; Sharon Carpenter, reporter on Russell Simmons' Global Grind website; Jas Fly, freelance writer, whose pop culture column appears on twice a week; Ms. Drama, host of the MsDramaTV blog and on-air personality at Major Playaz, an on-demand radio show, as well as Everywhere Radio on Sirius 40: Hip Hop Nation; and NYC Gossip Girl (Vivian Billings), whose blog provides a taste of what the streets are saying along with exclusive dish on hip hop celebrities. . . . "

Why Are These People in That House?

The Feb. 25-March 3 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek features apparent people of color surrounded by cash in a house that illustrates "The Great American Housing Rebound." The story, "A Phoenix Housing Boom Forms, in Hint of U.S. Recovery," by Susan Berfield, however, makes no mention of people of color in the majority-white city. Neither Bloomberg Businessweek Creative Director Richard Turley, Josh Tyrangiel, editor of Bloomberg Businessweek and an executive editor of Bloomberg News; nor Carl Fischer, who heads Bloomberg's global marketing, responded to inquiries this week.

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Centuries of White Supremacy yet no time for VRA

Observing the politics of the SCOTUS banter about extending section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is revealing and tragic . America has endured centuries of white supremacy yet 50 years of contested civil rights legislation is now viewed as adequate and excessive.

Inequality has a long shelf life as such remedies to eliminate it most so have a long tenure and legacy. The VRA and other laws which safeguard the inalienable of Americans including people of color are still required even in the post racial era.

A Flawed America in Context

Is Mr. Coates saying that African-Americans should view white racism through the prism he calls--"the misery index?" Ridiculous! Blacks already know what whites do to each other. The crux of their problem is they are still gnawing on a heinous past they'd like to secrete, whitewash.

Coates usual genuflection to appease his audience

Ditto ... You nailed it with regard to Coates he is always in this mode of appeasing his white audience . Coates likes being the noble negro intellectual .

Cross-postings from the Root


DMthefashionC SERIOUSLY?! Blk women blonde hair n blue eye it up all the time. RT @TheRoot247: French Mag Issues Blackface Apology


Does not bother me, because this is typical of Racist White dissonance.

All the people that this ad went through from beginning to finished product and no one questioned it? No one at the company felt compelled to correct this? They just went along and put it out there knowing this would offend Blacks. How insensitive and the board should fire the Editor.


Again, who are they selling to? It's not the average black woman.


Mixed feelings on the subject. I don't care for this photo but... I also understand that the average black woman is not the targeted consumer for clothes like this. (If you are a black woman spending $10K on an outfit I want to talk to your man and loan him a clue!)

To put it another way, the fashion industry revolves around selling "fashion" to the gulible with more money than common sense. Does it bother me that black folk aren't part of that? Not really...

Valerie O'Gilain

The blackface is offensive, but the skeletal shoulders in the "before" panel are horrifying - this girl is 16? The parents ought to be hauled in for neglect.


But seriously.....who goes with that title? What editor looks at it, and says, "Yep, that's a keeper." I don't think it's horribly offensive, but have to know going in that someone is going to be offended, and if you can't back it up with a good reason why you did it, then don't do it.

Bo Pe

Is it Horrible and Offensive... Yes..

No one could have found a model to fit the title African Queen.

I guess the makeup artist was trying to win an award...not to demean the child (but it didn't work).

The ad itself looks sloppy and doesn't fit the theme of the title..Just because a print is used doesn't mean it represents africa.

I guess now I'd have to say double offense.

Triple offense.. Not using a black model at all but then what happens if the model is biracial and is fair skinned. Would this still offend. Just throwing it back. That's all. We had a previous article that mentioned not black enough.

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